Today, we’re comparing two titans of the VPN industry: NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN. Both have a plethora of privacy provisions and excellent performance for their price, but ultimately only one will best satisfy your needs. Read on to get a comprehensive rundown of their benefits and features, plus exclusive discounts on each provider’s subscription plans.
If you pay attention to the world of internet security, then you’ll have heard many people talk about the importance of using a VPN to enhance your security and preserve your privacy online. With increasing monitoring of internet use and electronic communications by groups ranging from the government to copyright lawyers, it’s now more important that ever to take steps to keep yourself safe while you use the internet. And a VPN is the best way to do this.
It can be hard to choose a VPN provider, however. With hundreds of VPN providers out there, you may not know which one would best suit your needs. Here are Addictive Tips we often provide recommendations for the best VPNs for various needs, and two of our regular favourites are NordVPN and ExpressVPN. If you’ve narrowed down your options for a provider to these two, you might be wondering how they compare to each other in terms of features, ease of use, and reliability. This is the topic that we’ll be discussing today in our article on NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: which is the best VPN?
Do I Need a VPN?
As we mentioned, the two primary reasons to use a VPN are to protect your privacy and to enhance your internet safety. Another reason to use a VPN is so that you can accessing region locked content such as streaming services – for example, so you can use BBC iPlayer from outside of the UK or use the Hotstar streaming service from outside India.
If you’re considering getting a VPN for the first time then you might be tempted to use a free VPN to save some cash. However, free VPNs actually make you less safe, and the VPNs promoted by companies like Facebook are not to be trusted. Instead, you should use a reliable and trustworthy independent VPN such as NordVPN or ExpressVPN.
NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: REVIEW
NordVPN and ExpressVPN are both great VPNs that meet all of our key requirements like an excellent level of security, a large server network, and software that can be installed on a range of devices. Either provider will keep you safe by hiding your IP address while you browse and preventing anyone from tracking or recording your internet activity. Both services have no bandwidth limits, so you can use them as much as you want without worrying about hitting a traffic cap. And both can be used to secure all types of traffic, like VoIP calls using Skype or IM communications as well as internet browsing.
There are some factors which set these two services apart, however. Below we’ll compare the two services in terms of these important features.
When using a VPN, you want a provider that has fast connection speeds so that your browsing and downloading won’t be slowed down by your VPN. If you like to stream a lot of video, especially if you often stream in high definition, then you’ll want fast connection speeds to prevent lag or buffering issues.
Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN offer connections that are fast enough to handle everyday use including streaming high definition videos. But ExpressVPN tends to pip NordVPN in terms of offering the fastest connections for when you’re downloading large files. They even include a built-in speed test to help you dial in an optimal connection.
Size And Breadth Of Server Network
It’s helpful to have a VPN which offers you access to a large number of servers, so you can easily find a server that is fast enough and reliable enough to meet your needs. In addition, you want to have access to servers in as many countries as possible, so that you can connect to many different locations in order to get around region locks.
Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN have extremely large server networks with many servers in many different countries, so both providers score well in this category. ExpressVPN has over 3,000 servers in 94 different countries, including key locations like the US, Canada, UK, Netherlands, Sweden, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Unusually, ExpressVPN also has servers in African countries including Kenya, South Africa, and Algeria, which is helpful for maximum flexibility.
NordVPN, however, has an even larger server network, with an incredible 5,100+ servers located in 59 different countries. These include servers in the Americas, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and India, with all the most frequently required server locations included. A full list of servers, including information about special servers for P2P use or obfuscated servers is available if interested.
Security Including Double Encryption
The security offered by both services is excellent. They both use strong 256-bit encryption which is military grade and which is highly difficult to crack. In addition, both companies have a no logging policy, which means that they will never record information about your internet use. This way, even if the company were forced to hand over their data by a government order, there would be no information about your internet use to be seen.
There is an additional feature offered by NordVPN that ExpressVPN doesn’t have though, and that is double encryption. This means that your data is encrypted before it leaves your device and is then sent to a first server. At this server, the data is encrypted again and sent on to a second server. At the second server, the data is decrypted and sent on to its original destination. These two layers of encryption are essentially impossible to crack, making NordVPN the best choice for someone who wants the absolute highest level of security.
Use On Restricted Sites
Another reason to use a VPN is to access content from around the world. Lots of streaming sites have regional restrictions, like how the BBC iPlayer is only available to watch within the UK, or the Hulu streaming service is only available within the US. But with a VPN you can easily access content from anywhere in the world. You just connect to a server in the country you want to appear to be browsing from (e.g. the UK to use iPlayer) then you’ll be able to watch the content there as if you were in the region of restriction.
However, not all VPNs work on all sites. Some sites, like Netflix, have sophisticated software to detect and block VPN connections. The good news is that both NordVPN and ExpressVPN are two of the best services for use on restricted sites, and both work on Netflix, Hulu, iPlayer, and other sites with VPN detection.
NordVPN just about wins this comparison though, thanks to its SmartPlay feature which combines some of the features of Smart DNS with a VPN service so it can be used on practically any streaming service you can think of.
Quality of VPN Software
A factor that can make a big difference in how pleasant it is to use a VPN on a day to day basis is the quality of the software. So we’ll compare the user experience of the ExpressVPN and NordVPN software for desktop.
The ExpressVPN software aims for simplicity, with a home screen that has just one large button to connect the VPN, and two smaller buttons to choose the location which you connect to, either by selecting a location from a list or using the smart location feature. If you open up the menu by clicking in the top left, you’ll find extra options like a speed test to help you find the fastest server, or a DNS leak test and IP address checker so that you can check whether your connection is working and is secure.
In addition, there is also an option to view diagnostic information to help you fix any problems that you might come across. Overall the software has all the basics that you need but not a lot in the way of frills.
The NordVPN software looks similarly simple when you first open it, with a visual map of the world that you can use to connect to a server in the country of your choice. However, there are many more features available in this software. On this main screen, in addition to the map you’ll also find options to search for a location and information about your currently visible IP address.
The countries tab lets you sort and search servers, plus browse a list of speciality servers for particular purposes – like anti DDoS, dedicated IP, double VPN, onion over VPN, and P2P. The settings tab has a set of basic and advanced settings including a cyber security feature to eliminate ads and protect you from malware, an internet kill switch, options for customising your notifications, the protocol to use, custom DNS, and diagnostic information.
The software is impressive as it is both easy to use for a beginner, while still having all the detailed features that an advanced user would want.
Platforms Supported & Browser Extensions
One last factor that you should consider before choosing a VPN is what platforms are supported. As long as software support is available for your devices, you can use your one VPN account to protect your computers, phone, tablet, and even smart TV, games console, or other devices. That’s why it’s useful to choose a VPN provider who offers software for all of the platforms that you use. In addition, some VPN providers offer browser extensions which are a convenient way to quickly connect to a server while you are browsing the internet.
NordVPN has software available for lots of different devices, like the most common operating systems of Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android, and Linux. It also has instructions available for how to install the software onto many other devices including Windows Phone, Raspberry Pi, and a wide range of routers. You can also use the browser extensions which are available for Chrome and Firefox.
ExpressVPN also offers support for a big range of devices, including the essentials of Windows, Android, iOS, Mac, and Linux. In addition it has support for games consoles like the Playstation and Xbox, and other devices like AppleTV and Amazon FireTV. It also has browser extensions available for Firefox, Chrome, and Safari.
Which VPN Is Best?
Whether NordVPN or ExpressVPN is best depends upon your particular requirements.
- If you want a simple to use VPN which works with no fuss and can be installed on a massive range of devices, Netflix access, solid performance and some of the fastest servers in the VPN industry — then you should use ExpressVPN.
- But if you are an advanced user who wants special features like double encryption, the ability to access region locked content even when VPN blocking is in place, and advanced software which lets you tweak your connection according to your needs — then you should use NordVPN.
Our Special Offers
If you’ve made a decision and you’re ready to try out either of the VPN providers that we’ve discussed above, then we have special offers available to our readers to let you save money on a subscription for either service:
ExpressVPN is one of the most popular VPNs thanks to its flexibility and easy of use. It has super fast connection speeds that won’t slow you down, so you can browse and download in peace over a connection so fast you won’t even notice that it’s there.
The VPN uses strong 256-bit encryption and has a no logging policy to keep your data safe and to protect your privacy, and the massive server network consists of over 3,000 servers in 160 locations in 94 different countries so you can get around region locks of all kinds.
The software is available for operating systems including Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and Android, in addition to games consoles and smart TVs, and is very easy to use. You can also use the VPN through browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.
Read our full ExpressVPN review.
- Unblocking Netflix, iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Prime
- Super fast, reliable connection
- Secure encryption & VPN protocols
- Strict no-logging policy
- Live chat support available.
- Month-to-month plan has high cost.
NordVPN is a top choice for users who want both the very best in security and advanced features like custom DNS and specialised servers. In terms of security, there is the 256-bit encryption and no logging policy that you would expect, plus the special double encryption which you can use for the absolute highest level of security.
The connection speeds offered are fast enough for streaming high definition video, and the massive server network has more than 5,100 servers in 59 countries so you’ll never struggle to find a server.
There are specialised servers available for anti DDoS, dedicated IP, double VPN, onion over VPN, and P2P. The software can be installed on Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS, Chrome OS, Android, and Windows Phone, plus you can use the VPN through browser extensions for the Chrome and Firefox web browsers.
Read our full NordVPN review.
- Very affordable plans
- Over 5,400 servers in 61 countries
- Strong security features
- Retains no metadata of your browsing
- Money back guarantee policy (30-days).
- Some servers can be slow and unreliable
- Apps can sometime be slow to connect.
We often recommend both ExpressVPN and NordVPN here at Addictive Tips, thanks to the high level of security, fast connections, and large server networks offered by both providers. However, if you’re trying to decide which of these two VPNs you should use, this guide can help you see some of the key differences between the two. ExpressVPN has the advantages that it is extremely easy to use and can be installed on a big range of devices, and it has extremely fast connections. NordVPN offers special security features plus other advanced features and the best performance we’ve seen for getting around VPN blocks. Overall, we’d recommend ExpressVPN for beginners who want a simple VPN with no complications, and NordVPN for advanced users who want all of the special features on offer.
Have you tried out either of these two VPNs? How was your experience with them? Let us know in the comments below.
If you need a VPN for a short while when traveling for example, you can get our top ranked VPN free of charge. ExpressVPN includes a 30-day money-back guarantee. You will need to pay for the subscription, that’s a fact, but it allows full access for 30 days and then you cancel for a full refund. Their no-questions-asked cancellation policy lives up to its name.